Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tioman Eco Challenge: Warning! For Military Personnel Only

After almost 9 hours from KL, we finally arrived...
My sis's first time here too...
A group pic before the start..
This is the easy part...
Before the start...I noticed a lot of strong guys taking part.
Sky divers putting on a show...
Hills here are indeed steep. The highest point of Tioman is 1000 meters above sea level.

Despite being a Pahangnite, I haven't been to the island before. Since the Tioman Eco Challenge is held there, with a promising 30km of trail run, I thought it would be a splendid way to visit and perhaps enjoy the trails.

Ray Ng, Mich Looi, my sis & I went in my car, with a journey that took 6 hours to reached Mersing. Then it was another 2 hours ferry ride to the island. What struck me upon reaching, was the tall & steep hills which starts almost immediately from the shores. Uh oh, this doesn't look good.

We had some briefing upon registration at Berjaya Tioman Resort. The trail is divided into 5 sections A, B, C, D & E. There's 3 checkpoints for A, B, C, and 2 chk points for D, and lastly 1 checkpoint for E. Cut off time is 7 hours. I thought I could game it in 5.

According to the spokesman, the path from A1 to C2 will be very hard, and if you can get to C2, the rest of the parts will be smooth sailing. Which is kind of untrue. We'll get to that part later.

Race day. Kind of lots of fanfare with skydivers & a VIP from the military to officiate. In fact there's lots of military guys taking part. And, best of all, the route is done by them as well.

The Kenyans were as usual in the international. My focus would be on Jasni, and of course superhuman Dino himself. Strategy is to just run in the front pack.

Race started, and soon we ran along the nice man made path, until we hit the hills. And that's where things get from easy to tough. First it's bloody steep. No one could run up, I just sort of trying to walk up as fast as I could, or as far as the lungs can take it.

Secondly, lots of thorny bushes, on the surface, or grown on trunks that you could have use your hand to hold them. Basically it's a bit of nuisance if you have to pass through them.

Thirdly, almost invisible small roots that you could have tripped if you aren't careful. Yes, even while walking, many times I got my foot stuck, and had almost fallen.

Needless to say, Jasni had already passed me. Dino had disappeared up front. And I was just trying to move as carefully as possible which wasn't a good idea if you want to go fast.

We had to follow yellow ribbons tied as a way point from one location to the other. Sometimes, even as a group, you might missed it, and you'll have to stop & look for it.

The ridiculous thing on steepness is, just imagine from start to A2, the height at A2 is 450 meters. It took me 40 minutes to reach A2. Then it was a bit of downhill, which was steep as well, and running is not a good idea. It's only before, and after A3 (at the waterfall), that you could run a bit.

I think Chan Mei Mei (first local lady), passed me after A2 on the downhill. The group that she was with was going downhill quite fast, and I was too chickened to follow.

The route towards B2 reached a resort at the beach. Then we have to move towards B3, and C1. Then finally go uphill (very steep as well), towards C2. While climbing the rocks near C2, I saw one guy lying on his back and resting. It taxed even the strongest guys I have seen on the trails.
I will see more of this later on.

There were some rain, which made the path more slippery, which made movement more dangerous. I was just adamant of trying to get to C2, in hope that the worse is over. Finally after 4:20, I did reached C2, which was beside the beach. I sat on the stretcher, took some bar, and drank, and it was the first time I questioned if the 7 hours cut off time is doable? Cause the problem was C2 is halfway point up to the finish.

Ok, the route should be easier, as the organizer had said. But easy it was NOT. We have to go back right into the wild bushes & hills, and it was quite wild. There's one section you have to climbed up a rock 4 meters high using a rope. It wasn't going up any major uphills, BUT the route looks like just newly hacked, goes up & down until you reached C3.

I just couldn't believe it. I thought we would be running beside man-made paths or beach, up to the end.

Finally did reached C3, which reaches Kampung Paya if not mistaken. Thoughts of DNFing was really etched in my mind. I was tired, hungry, hot, & disoriented from all the pounding up & down trails. I have got 1hr and 10 minutes left to cover 10km. Ah, this should be the easy part, so I started running.

After 5km, there's some trails we need to go through again. Nevermind, I thought, this could be the last one before we reach the beach. Then I saw the orange coloured apartment complex behind Berjaya Resort, and thought, yes, I finally made it. That's another 3km more...or so I thought.

Upon reaching the beach after the trails, I saw a guy sitting on a log, and he said he's quitting cause we only got 15minutes. I wondered why, until I found what the reason was: we have to go back up the trails again on the right!. And there was some uphills again! My spirit is almost broken, and I couldn't comprehend why we can't run on the beach? F**k this, hell, I would rather swim across than see another rock, tree trunk, roots. But I remembered what David Goggins said "Always open the door, which gave me a few more miles". Alrighty then, it's back to hill slugging.

Finally after much trail navigating insanity, I reached the final E1 checkpoint, to run up some gravel, and finally reaching the tarmac on the golf course. I couldn't be much happier upon reaching the finishing line. My sis had been waiting patiently for 2 hours more, and I didn't want to make her wait longer. This medal is so tough to get, I had thoughts of framing it up.

Time taken was 7:09:00

Dino got first, Jasni 7th, and most of the top 10 was won by military guys.

Ok, compared to Sabah Adventure Challenge, this is indeed harder by a few times. I didn't thought of quitting in SAC, but I had almost quit this due to the cut off time. Definitely the wildest trail I have ever been through. I mean, I have been through thorns & stuff like that, but not in a race where you are chasing for time. Some parts are dangerous, as one mistake could be fatal. I think around 50 made it back. The rest DNF.

Compared to the TNF SG? I am sorry folks, TNF SG is like a walk in the park. On a scale from 1 to 10, TNF sg is at 1 or 2, SAC around 6 and Tioman Eco challenge at 10. So if you want to kill yourself, try this.


Fong said...

hihi.. watever didnt kill u, makes u stronger.. weldone =)

cRAzYtoMatOmaN-D said...

I'm going back next year to get myself tortured again...hahaha!

Yimster said...

lol I loved your last statement of should you want to kill yourself try this :)

Think I shall again give it another go next year!

zulhassan said...

aku insaf...

K3vski said...

Wow, sounds like a really tough race. You're constantly challenging yourself, well done!